In 2014, its Head of Business Implementation, Mark Vickers, assumed responsibility for the UK proposal team, which was struggling to support the business. For Mark, the team’s issues were
“There was no clear and repeatable process. Each bid was managed in an ad hoc manner, material was not reusable; evening and weekend working was normal – nobody wanted to work on proposals. At the same time, our documents failed to clearly address the client’s needs and therefore our win rate was low.”
Mark’s first step was to turn to specialist recruitment consultancy, Bid Solutions, to secure market-leading talent through strategic candidate sourcing and headhunting. Bid Solutions set about finding the right staff for Mark and also recommended the services of its partner, Strategic Proposals, to design and implement a best practice proposal approach.
After a thorough analysis and benchmarking exercise, which included a range of stakeholder interviews, we reported back with a number of recommendations including:
- implement a documented bid process
- restructure in line with best practice
- add experienced bid professionals with the necessary project management and bid writing skills.
Strategic Proposals remained with the team for approximately seven weeks after the assessment to help bed-in the recommended improvements. The scope of work also involved managing a large consultant bid with the aim of acquiring good, reusable content that could form the basis of an improved database.
In parallel, with Bid Solutions’ support, key positions within the bid team were recruited, including a Senior Bid Manager and three Bid Writers, kickstarting the ambitious improvement plans. These were supplemented by interim Bid Writers to alleviate pressure during critical periods of bidding activity.
With experienced staff, a better database and new, repeatable processes in place, the team has become the proposal hub for the global organisation and the quality of its output is much improved – as is the win rate. Mark highlights the consequence of this success:
“We’ve become a truly global team with sales managers queuing up to work with us. Proposals will always be hard work, but they’re much less stressful now and people enjoy working on them. Evening and weekend working is a rarity and it’s normal for us to submit our bids 24 to 48 hours before the deadline.
Our ongoing support continues to drive improvements: storyboard training for the team has been put to good use, as have sessions on executive summaries and win strategy best practice, which have been delivered to sales teams across Europe.
Two and a half years on from the initial assessment, we returned to repeat the benchmarking exercise. The results were positive: the team was now working as a ‘Strategic’ proposal unit. And while everyone is keen to develop further, this improvement from ‘Tactical’ has put the team in a position of strength from which to push through additional best practice processes across the organisation.”